Heavy earthquake strikes Haiti, at least 29 deaths reported

Haiti has been a major earthquake. According to local civil protection, at least 29 people died, but the number of victims is expected to increase.

According to measurements by the EMSC European earthquake center and the US Geological Service USGS, the quake had a force of 7.2. After the first shock, around 8:30 a.m. local time, several aftershocks followed with a force between 4.1 and 5.2.

Here are first images from after the earthquake:

Prime Minister Henry says there is โ€œtremendous damageโ€ in the south of the country and that help is being sent to the affected areas. According to him, some villages have been destroyed and hospitals are flooded with wounded.

โ€œThe most important thing now is to save as many people as possible from under the rubble,โ€ he says. โ€œWe understand from the hospitals, especially in the city of Les Cayes, that they are flooded with people with bone fractures.โ€ The Ministry of Health in Haiti calls on people to donate blood to help the victims.

Henry says the Red Cross and hospitals in areas that have not been affected come to the rescue. โ€œThe need is enormous. We need care, but also food, help, shelters and mental help.โ€ On Twitter, Henry calls on all the inhabitants of the Caribbean to unite โ€œto cope with this dramatic situationโ€. He proclaimed a state of emergency for a month.

Damage similar to 2010

The Red Cross says that the coastal city of Jeremie has been badly hit on the basis of the first reports. An estimated 100,000 people live in that city. According to a spokesperson, at the moment it appears that the damage is similar to that after the 2010 earthquake.

Social media takes pictures of buildings collapsed or severely damaged by the earthquake. An automatic tsunami warning was issued for the region, but it was revoked.

The quake at a depth of ten kilometres took place some 125 kilometres west of the capital Port-au-Prince, in the town of Saint-Louis-du-Sud. The Civil Protection Service calls on people in the affected area to go outside and stay away from the surroundings of buildings or other locations that could collapse.

The editor-in-chief of Haitian daily Le Nouvelliste reports that many houses and a hotel have collapsed in the city of Les Cayes. The local hospital is crowded, according to him:

To AFP, a resident of the affected area says that many houses have been destroyed. โ€œThere are deaths and some people have been taken to the hospital,โ€ he says. โ€œEveryones on the street now and the shocks keep coming.โ€

A native of Port-au-Prince tells Reuters news agency that people fled out there in panic. โ€œI heard people scream,โ€ she says. โ€œAt least they knew they had to go outside. In 2010, people didnt know what to do. People are still outside.โ€

More Clarity

Correspondent Nina Jurna expects the extent of the damage to be cleared over the next few hours. โ€œAt the previous quake in 2010 it was only clear after a while how big the drama was,โ€ she said in the CCEIT Journal on NPO Radio 1.

According to her, the effects of that quake, at the time with a force of 7.0, are still noticeable. โ€œI was in Haiti a few years ago and still saw the collapsed buildings. You can say that the mess of back then is still not completely over.โ€

The US geological service says that the number of victims as a result of the quake may be high, and the devastation โ€œwidespreadโ€. The quake has also been felt in surrounding countries.

Tropical storm

tropical storm is expected to flush the affected area next Monday. It doesnt seem like its going to be a heavy hurricane, but it can lead to a lot of rainfall and other violence of nature. โ€œThe people who have just been affected may be double victims,โ€ says Red Cross spokesperson Naomi Nolte.

She says the Red Cross is on site to map the damage. What the consequences of the earthquake could be is not clear for Nolte, who is in the Netherlands. โ€œBut its a positive sign that we can at least have contact with colleagues there.โ€ According to her, the first emergency response usually relies on shelter, clean (drinking) water, food and psychosocial support.

According to official figures, the 2010 earthquake killed more than 200,000 people, 1.5 million were homeless. But according to other sources, including Dutch journalist Hans-Jaap Melissen, that number is wrong and in reality a few tens of thousands of people died.